ARMOUR SQUARE — Armour Square residents can now enjoy a little taste of Thailand with their coffee during a nice day break.
Joy Cafe, 258 W. 31st St., is now open and offering hot and cold coffee drinks, espresso, Chai, baked goods and its specialty Thai-style iced coffee.
Richard Gallo, owner of Joy Cafe, has lived on-and-off in the neighborhood for 60 years. Semi-retired with a technical background, Gallo decided to open up the cafe with his wife.
"I think that the area needed it," Gallo said. "I like making drinks and sandwiches and interacting with people. You get to learn a lot about them."
The name comes from his wife, Joy, who is Thai and brings in her iced coffee recipe from Thailand.
Gallo, a self-taught barista, learned how to make drinks by watching YouTube videos. He wanted to create something outside of the realm of fast food.
"Looking around, there aren't a lot of places to grab a sandwich and coffee," Gallo said.
Gallo recalls the times in which "mom-and-pop" stores were vibrant in Armour Square and shopping local was a personal experience. With Joy Cafe, he hopes to give the community a relaxing place and a nice taste of quality service and said he plans to deliver to the customer what he would expect as one himself.
"I want to serve people the way I like to be served," Gallo said.
Customers can enjoy soothing instrumentals and a game of chess along with local baked goods brought by Bake for Me, a bakery at 43rd and Halsted streets.
Gallo hopes to bring in more options to the menu such as frappe drinks, green tea and sandwiches.
Joy Cafe offers coffee from Columbia Street Roastery in Downstate Champaign. [DNAinfo/Kayla Martinez]
"If I'm going to serve you a sandwich, best believe I would eat the sandwich myself," Gallo said.
The cafe is open from 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays.